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Alternatives to Sex

A Novel

About The Book

Pleasure and guilt make mischievous bedfellows in Stephen McCauley's witty send-up of modern love, sex, and real estate.

Boston real estate agent William Collins knows that his habits are slipping out of control. Due to obsessive-compulsive daily cleaning binges and a penchant for nightly online cruising for hookups, he finds his sales figures slipping despite a booming market. There's also his ongoing struggle to collect the rent from his passive-aggressive tenant and his worries about his best friend, Edward, whom he's certainly not in love with. Just as he decides to do something about his life, he meets Charlotte and Samuel, wealthy suburbanites looking for the perfect city apartment. "Happy couple," he writes in his notes. "Maybe I can learn something from them." What he ultimately discovers challenges his own assumptions about real estate, love, and desire—and what they learn from him might unravel a budding friendship, not to mention a very promising sale.

Full of crackling dialogue delivered by a stellar ensemble of players, Alternatives to Sex is a smart, hilarious chronicle of life in post-traumatic, morally ambiguous America—where the desire to do good is constantly being tripped up by the need to feel good. Right now.

About The Author

Photograph © Susan Wilson

Stephen McCauley is the author of Alternatives to SexTrue EnoughThe Man of the HouseThe Easy Way OutMy Ex-Life, and The Object of My Affection, which was adapted into a film starring Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Visit his website at

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (January 9, 2007)
  • Length: 304 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780743453196

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Raves and Reviews

"McCauley's best . . . With his self-effacing wit and disarming compassion for even the most unlikely characters, McCauley proves once again that he's the master of the modern comedy of manners." -- USA Today

"Hilarious, poignant, and true. Wickedly insightful about the millennium's two greatest obsessions: sex and real estate." -- Darren Star, creator of Sex and the City

"Stephen McCauley is a social satirist in the tradition of Evelyn Waugh and Oscar Wilde . . . with fierce, occasionally lacerating wit; a gimlet eye for human foibles; and a commendable willingness to dally in ambivalence and moral ambiguity." -- Los Angeles Times

"A light, diverting romp through eminently adult concerns: sex, real estate, fidelity and housecleaning. . . . Full of the complications of modern life. . . . Loony and delicious . . . a delightful story." -- San Francisco Chronicle

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